KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12 — Complaints from today’s undergraduates who say they are too poor to afford proper meals have met unexpected backlash from older Malaysians online under the hashtag topic #mahasiswalapar, or “hungry students” in English.
Cash-strapped students who took to Twitter and other social media sites to air their grouses over the high living costs drew criticism from graduates — today’s working adults — who shared how they juggled jobs to cover their tuition fees, food bill, rent and other expenses while students.
Twitter user Shawn Tan said that he used to do three part-time jobs while he doing his doctorate, and said that without the jobs, he would have “starved to death”.
Using his Twitter handle @sybreon, Tan also said that the issue is a “solvable problem” and that the “kids these days lack gumption”.
“I also used to attend every damn seminar or talk given in campus, just so that I could get free dinner,” Tan wrote in a series of tweets under the #mahasiswalapar hashtag.
“Students need to get a job. That’s what we did during the old days,” he said.
Another user with the handle @cluelessinkl said that he was doing a retail shift through college.
“There is no substitute for hard graft,” he wrote.
Another Twitter user by the name Imok said he also faced a situation where he was left with only RM10 for two weeks, but overcame the problem by starting a small printing business.
“If we are hungry, and we keep complaining about being hungry, we can’t fill up the hunger, that is why you must find a way,” he wrote on his Twitter handle @AfuatAbuHassn.
Other Internet users also questioned if students who claimed to be starving were using smartphones, to determine whether the struggling students had their priorities right.
“The student who was hungry to the point of rupturing intestines, was she using a smartphone? Did she have a data plan? Living alone or with a friend? Was the friend starving too?” Asrul Muzaffar asked on his Twitter handle @asrulmm.
Last week, Malay daily Harian Metro reported a Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) student had ruptured her intestines due to poor eating habits as she only had RM30 to use for food every week.
Since then, many students from several other institutions had complained of starving, but Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin yesterday dismissed the reports as being “sensationalised”.
He said that he did not think the students are starving due to various programmes by the government already in place for underprivileged students.